On Sunday, the final payment period for the CERB ended. For all intents and purposes, the program is now over. While you can still apply for retroactive payments until December 3, that’s only for if you didn’t get the CERB when eligible. If you’ve used up all the payment periods that you were eligible for, then the program is officially over.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the CERB is being replaced by three new programs that pay just as much. Offering $500 a week, these programs are just as good as the CERB. In fact, they may be more valuable. As you’re about to see, one of the CERB replacements being rolled out can actually pay more than $500 a week. Among the three of them, almost everyone who got the CERB will be eligible for support.
Revamped EI is the biggest CERB replacement program being rolled out. It’s like the old EI you’re used to, but with a $500 a week minimum and a lower hours requirement. To get $500 a week, you only need to have worked 120 hours. That makes it easier than it would otherwise be to replace your CERB income with EI. If you worked a lot of hours, your revamped EI could be higher than $500.
The CRB is a CERB replacement for self-employed people and pays $500 a week. In most respects, it’s similar to the CERB. However, you must not be eligible for EI to get it, which generally means being self-employed or a small business owner.
Caregiver Benefits (CRCB)
The CRCB is a $500 a week benefit for those caring for COVID-19-impacted dependents. To get it, you need to have left work or had your hours reduced to care for someone who was impacted by COVID-19. That includes children under 12 and individuals with disabilities. The CRCB is the one post-CERB benefit you can still get if you left work voluntarily. However, the person in your care has to have been impacted by COVID-19 involuntarily.
What to do with $500 a week
If you think you’re going to get $500 a week from one of the COVID-19 benefits, you might be wondering what to do with it. Of course, you’ll have daily necessities you’ll need to take care of. But once that’s taken care of, what do you do with the rest?
One option is to invest the money, to build up a “rainy day” fund for future situations like this. You never know when another crisis will hit, and you can’t be certain that government support in the future will be as robust as it has been in 2020. Therefore, investing your money is a good idea.
Let’s say you took $6,500–about half of what the new COVID-19 benefits can pay over 26 weeks–and invested it in the BMO Mid-Term U.S. Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (TSX:ZIC). That’s a bond fund that yields 3.33%–according to fund sponsor BMO. If you invest $7,000 at a 3.3% average yield, you’ll get $214 back in annual income.
If you invest more each year, that payout could grow higher. Eventually, you could build up a portfolio that would pay enough passive income to keep you afloat during a crisis. It’s just one way to put your post-CERB COVID-19 money to work for you.
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Fool contributor Andrew Button has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.